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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Minister with Love

Saturday, August 26, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for Saturday, 20th Week of Ordinary Time: LECTIONARY no. 424 (Ru 2: 1-3, 8-11, and 4: 13-17; Ps 128: 1-2, 3,4,5; Mt 23: 1-12) The Responsorial (Psalm 128) acclaims the fruit of love: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.” To “fear” the Lord in Scripture is to respect and honor him by obeying his commands. His “great command” is to love.

The message of Ruth 2:1-11 and 4:13-17 is that love gives life. The story focuses on physical life, but as the germ of a fertility beyond imagination. Ruth’s story is an echo of Abraham’s. When Ruth asked Boaz, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” Boaz replied: All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you .... The Lord rewarded Abraham with the promise: “I will make of you a great nation.... I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.”[i] Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. The Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not failed to provide you today with an heir.... They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. The reading goes on to list as ancestors of Boaz the same names Matthew records in the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth is an ancestor of Jesus, in whom Abraham’s posterity and hers have become “as numerous as the stars of heaven...” Jesus makes the same promise to all who minister on earth as members of his body and priests in the Priest. “I appointed you to go and bear fruit.” It is the promise of posterity.[ii] Matthew 23:1-12 contrasts the destructive ministry of the “Pharisee party” (in every age) with the ministry of love. Jesus condemns the established religion teachers in Israel, and the Pharisees because they are more concerned with enforcing the laws than with what the burdens they put on people are doing to them. They will not “lift a finger” to find a more pastoral, gentle, acceptable way to interpret or apply the law. They are more in love with their position, and with the titles, deference and prestige attached to it by custom, than with giving life to people. They love “places of honor” at banquets and religious celebrations, and “marks of respect in public” from people who would never dream of calling them by their first name. They call themselves “teachers,” forgetting they are learners along with everyone else, and that their own teaching will be distorted in the measure it does not come from deep, personal communication with the “only One” who is truly Teacher — a line of communication maintained through humble dependence on him in prayer and through equally humble dialogue with others. The only ministers worthy of the name are those whose deep desire is to help out in humility as an equal member of the community, without even dreaming that their rank “exalts” them. They alone understand the spirit of the “second Epiclesis” and the Eucharistic Prayer.

Initiative: Be a priest. Minister to every person in love.

[i]Genesis 12:1-3, 22:17. See Hebrews 11:8-12. [ii] Cp. Matthew 1:3-6 and Ruth 4:18-22; John 15:8-16.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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